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Father Muench Says...

Looking back on an exceptional week

Sept.30, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

So, what did you think of the Pope’s visit? I thought it was a great week – an  exceptional time.  I couldn’t get enough.  So, how about you?  What did you think?  Pope Francis did bring the message of Jesus to so many in our country. 

I am certain you recognized that Pope Francis took our country by storm.  His reputation preceded him.  We all knew that he comes as a humble priest who is now the head of our Catholic Church.  He has spoken often of his concern for the poor and the marginalized. Many were so surprised that this Pope is so humble. He is such a great human being, such a holy priest. Everything about him is so simple, so humble and yet so impressive.  He handled the huge crowds and special ceremonies so well.

From the very beginning of this visit, Pope Francis did all he could to demonstrate that he really means what he says.  I remember how his papacy began – as he stood on the balcony of St. Peter’s – he calmly asked the crowd in St. Peter’s Square and throughout the world to take a moment to pray for him.  Since then there have been so many surprises – surprises that we did not expect from our Holy Father.

This one man attracted such huge attention.  He comes as the son of immigrants to Argentina, this Jesuit priest and bishop who now has been elected the Supreme Pontiff. 

It was such a wonderful week for us, Catholics, as our Holy Father, Pope Francis, took center stage in our own country.  Everywhere he went people turned out in large numbers. Every event was jammed and they were such wonderful celebrations – such prayerful Masses.  And he spoke so well – he had lots to say to us all.

The television people couldn’t get enough.  Everything was covered – even his rides from event to event.  Many people were wondering if there would be any surprises.  Pope Francis did not need any surprises.  His words, his smile, his reaching out to all people was enough to impress us all – Catholic and those who are not.

I was thinking it would have been neat, if there were some surprises.  I know that the Pope knew about the security precautions.  However, I know he would have loved to walk through the crowds – touching the people – hugging the children.  Yet, so many simply wanted to get a glimpse of him.

My hopes and prayers are that as the Holy Father thrilled so many Americans, his presence here put new life and faith in all Catholics.  May his holiness of life reach those Catholics who have given up the practice of their faith.  May they see the goodness and joy of our Catholic faith.

We certainly cannot forget how wonderful this visit has been – the memories, the stories, the pictures should stay with us.  Pope Francis brought us the love and Spirit of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Let us all continue to pray and pray often for this exceptional Pope. May he stay healthy and strong.  We need his words and his actions and his surprises.  He certainly makes me proud to be a Catholic.

I did not attend any of the events of Pope Francis’ visit but I did follow it all on television.  Through the close ups of television, I could see in Pope Francis’ eyes – eyes that demonstrated how much he loves people.  He wants our Catholic Church to be ready always to bring love and compassion and forgiveness to those who are in need. 

He wants the Catholic Church to stand always with the poor and the needs – to bring Jesus to the world – to bring love and peace to all families.  He certainly strives to change our world with the love of Our Savior – and I noticed his deep devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God.

To accomplish this, Pope Francis has called for a Jubilee Year of Mercy.  Mercy – the Church’s mercy of love and forgiveness – open to all – saints and sinners.

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